Qureshi aims to serve up peace at U.S. Open

Thu Sep 9, 2010 6:24pm EDT
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By Matt Majendie

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pakistan's Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi only took up tennis to avoid doing homework, but now the doubles specialist is a household name back home with his exploits at the U.S. Open and his bid to broker peace.

The 30-year-old lost in the finals of the mixed doubles on Thursday but will get another shot at his first grand slam when he teams up with India's Rohan Bopanna in the men's doubles final against the top-seeded Bryan brothers Friday.

Qureshi and Bopanna have been trying to use their tennis partnership to promote more peaceful relations between India and Pakistan.

The pair wear sweatshirts emblazoned with the slogan "Stop War, Start Tennis" and there has been talk of a match being played across the India-Pakistan border.

"I've always said there's no reason the Indians and Pakistanis can't get along with each other," said Qureshi.

"We always said sports can reach places where no religion or politics or politician can reach. If you can change a few people's minds on the Indian or Pakistani side, I think it's a great thing."

Qureshi has already given the people of Pakistan something to cheer about amid catastrophic flooding in recent months which killed more than 1,700 people, displaced millions and caused an estimated $43 billion in damage.

"It's been hard times for Pakistan especially in the last two months so to be able to help send some positive news back each day has been fantastic," he said.   Continued...

<p>Mixed doubles runners-up Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan and his playing partner Kveta Peschke (R) of the Czech Republic pose with their award after losing in the finals to Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan of the U.S. during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 9, 2010. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi</p>